By Jason Millman - 12/06/10 11:13 PM EST
Welcome to The Hill's evening roundup of the day's health policy news and advance look at tomorrow's schedule.
Monday’s health news:
Vote coming on 9/11 healthcare benefits: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed a motion for cloture on four bills Monday, including one that would provide $7.4 billion in benefits and compensation to first responders at Ground Zero.
The motion sets up a Wednesday vote to end debate on the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Democrats need one Republican vote to end the debate and move forward on a final vote.
PhRMA names new leader: Following Jeffrey Kindler’s surprise resignation as Pfizer’s president and chief executive, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America moved quickly to replace Kindler as board chairman Monday afternoon. Christopher Viehbacher, CEO of Sanofi-Aventis, will lead the association. Kindler, 55, who had been Pfizer’s CEO since 2006, was selected to lead the PhRMA board in March of this year. http://bit.ly/fHgY8x
Medicare payment board fears ACO backlash: The Medicare payment advisory panel is warning that accountable care organizations (ACOs), boosted by the new healthcare reform law, might face public backlash similar to what managed care organizations experienced in the 1990s.
Prior history shows that patients felt forced into managed care by their employers without seeing any benefits from the change, and some doctors who opposed the organizations helped stoke patients’ fears, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) wrote in a letter to the Medicare chief last week.
Legislative changes may be necessary to provide incentives, such as reduced beneficiary cost sharing or providing a share of the savings, to help beneficiaries accept ACOs, MedPAC wrote. Further, Medicare should allow beneficiaries the choice to switch from an assigned primary care provider to another provider who is not in an ACO, it said. http://bit.ly/ggXnc6
Medical groups urge ACO anti-trust guidance: Doctor and hospital groups said the government needs to create explicit safe harbors from anti-trust enforcement and anti-kickback laws. A Justice Department official told a House Judiciary subcommittee last week that it will work quickly to offer ACO anti-trust guidance.
Anti-abortion group says lawsuit off-base: The Susan B. Anthony List, responding to Rep. Steve Driehaus’s defamation lawsuit against the anti-abortion group, said his vote for healthcare reform — and not the group’s messaging — cost him a seat in Congress. Driehaus (D-Ohio), a one-term congressman who lost his reelection bid last month, announced Friday he was suing the group for allegedly misleading voters, knowingly, about his position on public funding for abortion. The SBA List asserted that the reform law provided for taxpayer funding of abortion.
“Congressman Steve Driehaus's problem is not that the Susan B. Anthony List allegedly lied about his vote for taxpayer-funded abortion in the health care bill,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “It’s that he caved when it counted, took the wrong vote, and paid the price on Election Day.”
More Democrats challenge new GOP representatives to drop insurance: Wisconsin’s Democratic party leader called on three newly elected Republican congressmen who ran on a platform to repeal healthcare reform to decline congressional health insurance when they take office.
Newly elected Wisconsin Reps. Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble and Sen.-elect Ron Johnson were singled out by Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate during a conference call with reporters Monday morning. Tate called on them to “go to the insurance giants that run our healthcare system at a great profit to themselves, and higher premiums for the rest of us, and see what kind of deal they can get themselves while they deny healthcare coverage to sick Wisconsinites.”
Doc charged Medicare for improper stents: Medicare spent nearly $4 million on stents implanted by a Maryland cardiologist who is accused of placing them in patients without reason, according to a Senate report released Monday.
Further, after Dr. Mark Midei was banned from St. Joseph Medical Center for allegedly performing unnecessary implants of heart stents, he was hired by the stent manufacturer to sell the devices, according to the Senate Finance Committee report. The manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories, allegedly paid at least $1,925 for social events at Midei’s home, including crab and barbecue dinners, the report said.
Wisconsin will challenge reform: Wisconsin’s top lawyer may bring a new lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law, according to the Associated Press. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he hasn’t decided whether to join the Florida lawsuit backed by 20 states or to issue his own challenge.
He will have some time to make up his mind, though, because he cannot act until the new Republican governor takes office Jan. 3. http://bit.ly/gxwekj
New tribal advisory committee: Health and Human Services announced the individuals who will serve on the secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee to consult with the department on Indian health. The committee, the first of its kind within HHS, is made up of a representative from each of the 12 areas of the Indian Health Service, as well as five at-large representatives. http://bit.ly/dUJpXo
On the agenda for Tuesday:
Energy gavel up for grabs: The GOP Steering Committee plans to cast votes Tuesday on the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship. Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) are gunning for the position, with Upton considered the front-runner.
The entire GOP conference will weigh in on the chairmanship race later in the week, likely Wednesday. The conference is not expected to stray from the steering panel’s decision.
Quality improvements in reform: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will outline how the healthcare reform law improves care delivery for doctors, improves care for patients and lowers costs as the keynote speaker for the 22nd Annual National Quality Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care in Orlando. Sebelius is scheduled to speak at 12:30 p.m.
Around the Web:
Bachmann says GOP leadership is doomed without repeal vote: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus, told CNSNews.com that Republican House leaders should face an “insurrection” if it does not hold a straight up-or-down vote on an outright repeal of healthcare reform. http://bit.ly/g5dweA
Stem cells under the microscope: A federal appellate court heard arguments about the legality of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, The Wall Street Journal reports. http://on.wsj.com/g837jF
For your health: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases worked with 34 professional organizations, federal agencies and patient advocacy groups to develop clinical guidelines on the diagnoses, management and treatment of food allergy. http://bit.ly/90ZKgo
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